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COVID-19, others top agenda at WAHO committee meeting in Enugu

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
28 September 2021   |   3:01 am
How West Africa will emerge from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis, the need for quick post-pandemic recovery and other issues will form discussions at the ongoing West Africa Health Organisation

Members of the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) 2022 programmes committee at a meeting in Enugu… yesterday.<br />PHOTO: LAWRENCE NJOKU<br />

State’s diagnostic centre benefits from lab programme

How West Africa will emerge from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis, the need for quick post-pandemic recovery and other issues will form discussions at the ongoing West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) 2022 Programmes Committee meeting in Enugu State.

Yesterday, no fewer than 644,521 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Africa with 9,464 deaths, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region reportedly recorded 24,410 cases since the disease was recorded in February 2020.

Fifteen ECOWAS countries, including Nigeria, are at the committee meeting, which will also discuss other priority actions for 2022 in the areas of strengthening prevention and control of communicable diseases, strengthening regional pharmaceutical production, capacity building, maternal and child health and development of accountability and information tools.

It was gathered that $44 million was proposed for the programmes, with development partners contributing about 73 per cent.

The meeting will also discuss the development of WAHO’s strategic plan for the next five to 10 years.

Director-General WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, stated that the physical meeting, holding for the first time since the advent of COVID-19, was important “to strengthen the capacity of WAHO to discharge its mandate of improving health outcomes across the region and supporting member states.”

He added that the 2022 programme budget had undergone internal arbitration in WAHO and would aid the completion and consolidation of the numerous activities and achievements of the region in recent years.

“WAHO has been at the forefront of the regional pandemic response since February 2020, leading the coordination, collaboration and communication efforts across our 15 member states,” he stated.

Speaking on the United Kingdom (UK)’s decision not to recognise the vaccines sent into the region, Okolo stated that there was no decision anywhere in that regard, stressing that some people, out of fear, were mooting it.

Declaring the meeting open, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, asked the members to find ways of helping West Africa emerge from the global health challenges.

The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Ikechukwu Obi, enumerated his administration’s strides in the health sector, stressing that the state recently attracted world attention by the recognition from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Ugwuanyi pledged to do more to ensure a thriving health sector in the state.

MEANWHILE, WAHO has announced Enugu State Medical Diagnostic Centre, Enugu, as one of the beneficiaries of its laboratory strengthening programmes funded by the German Government.

Okolo, disclosed that the laboratory strengthening programmes, which include those funded by community effort and those by partners, were in the spirit of taking ECOWAS to the grassroots.